Category: Opinion


COPS: Man feigning Down syndrome got caregivers to bathe him, change diaper…

SEPTEMBER 13–An Arizona man feigning to suffer from Down syndrome tricked a series of female caregivers into bathing him and changing his diaper, according to investigators who have filed felony sex abuse and fraud charges against the creepy scamster.

As alleged in court documents, the scheme by Paul Menchaca, 30, began in May when he advertised on CareLinx, a “nationwide professional caregiver marketplace” that connects clients with home care workers.

In response to the ad, a caregiver corresponded solely via text with a woman named “Amy,” who claimed to be Menchaca’s mother. “Amy” told the caregiver that her son had Down syndrome and “required diaper changes and assistance with bathing,” according to a court filing

Police allege that “Amy,” who arranged for payments and provided care instructions, was actually Menchaca himself.

The first caregiver told police that she bathed Menchaca and changed his diaper on about 30 occasions. The woman told police that Menchaca occasionally complained “aggressively” that his genitals “were not cleaned enough,” which prompted her to wipe them “more thoroughly.” The caregiver added that Menchaca “had an erection every time his diaper was changed and when he was bathed.”

The other two caregivers told cops that they were hired by “Amy” to bathe and diaper her son (who, they reported, was aroused each time his diaper was changed).

None of the victims ever met “Amy,” and each woman received their payments in cash from Menchaca.  

A probable cause affidavit filed in Superior Court noted that “Amy” asked the caregivers to “punish” her son “when he soiled his diaper by putting him in timeout and taking away his privileges.”

Menchaca’s ruse was recently exposed by one of the caregivers, who had grown suspicious of her client (whom she cared for at what police termed “neutral locations,” not Menchaca’s residence). The caregiver followed Menchaca home one day and encountered his parents, who said their son “did not have Down syndrome and did not require diaper changes.”

Seen above, Menchaca “admitted to lying to them about his mental condition” when he was subsequently confronted by the three victims.

During a search of Menchaca’s home in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb, police recovered his “cell phone and diapers amongst other electronic devices.”

Menchaca was named Tuesday in a four-count felony complaint. He was freed from custody after posting $15,000 bond and has been ordered to have no contact with the three caregivers. (4 pages)

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China Flexes Hollywood Legal Muscle Over Blockbuster Season…

EXCLUSIVE: Eventually released in China much later than anticipated, the Orlando Bloom-starring S.M.A.R.T. Chase was not the big box office winner its producers desired. But Shanghai-based Bliss Media has come out the victor in a long BTS legal battle over the pic.

Almost two years after Stateside-set Das Films sued Bliss in Los Angeles Superior Court for kicking it off the project, an arbitration final award has come down strongly in favor of the Wei Han-founded company over the action flick that came out last fall in the Middle Kingdom.

“Bliss Media established that Das Films breached the Producer Deal Memo, breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and, through Das, negligently misrepresented Donaldson’s availability,” retired Judge Terry Friedman wrote in the August 13 final award arbitration ruling, noting that the shell game seemingly played with bringing November Man helmer Roger Donaldson on as S.M.A.R.T. Chase’s director.

“Bliss Media is awarded $522,787 in damages on its breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligent misrepresentation claims,” the JAMS arbitrator added. “As the prevailing party, Bliss Media is entitled to $630,000 in reasonable attorney’s fees and $65,457.71 in costs,” Friedman tacked on for the Hacksaw Ridge distributor from the interim award of late June, which followed hearings earlier that month

“Bliss Media is vindicated by the decision,” the LA-based lead attorney Susan Leader of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld told Deadline of the final award. “It’s telling that although there was a clear arbitration provision in the parties’ agreement, Das Films initiated this lawsuit publicly in state court, and it did so at the same time Bliss was filming S.M.A.R.T. Chase in China. At the time it filed the action, Das Films made a number of statements questioning Bliss’ integrity. Although Bliss did not seek damages for reputational harm, it was important for Bliss to clear its name and set the record straight that it was Das Films that had made misrepresentations to Bliss and breached the contract, and not the other way around.”

Das was involved in a similar sort of suit back in 2011 with Joy Luck Club director  Wayne Wang and his production company for breach of contract after the helmer walked away from a project with them.

In this matter, while the reputation issue might be big to Bliss and the actual sums involved might seem relatively small, the point made by the award isn’t. While determining exactly how much money was lost is purely speculative, the arbitrator did note in the award that “Bliss Media likely missed out on revenues it would have reaped had the film been released in Summer 2017.”

The fact is that summer in China, like in the U.S., is certified blockbuster season. Yet, because the Chinese government pretty much only allows domestic films or approved co-productions to hit the thousands of screens in the country during that time, S.M.A.R.T. Chase‘s inability to meet that “lucrative window,” as the award ruling calls it, sidelined the flick before it even debuted.

That’s a point that former Judge Friedman noted in last month’s final award document of the deal on a film once called Dragon, an agreement that bubbled out of a propitious 2015 American Film Market meeting between Han and Sriram Das.

“To the extent there is any uncertainty regarding whether Das Films breached the Producer Deal Memo by failing to hire Donaldson and to do so timely, there can be no doubt that by this conduct Das Films breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” the arbitrator asserts. “Despite Han’s repeated inquiries and demands, Das Films dragged its feet for months in fulfilling its ultimately unrealized obligation to hire Donaldson, or any director. Das precluded Han from having any direct contact with Donaldson, which prevented her from discovering his extended unavailability. As a result, Han could not receive the fruits of the Producer Deal Memo which, most important to Han and as she constantly expressed to Das, was to produce Dragon in time for Summer 2017 release.”

Friedman said bluntly: “Das Films’ implied covenant claim fails for the same reason as its breach of contract cause of action. It failed to perform its contractual duties, which relieved Bliss Media of any contractual obligations to Das Films.”

Now the final award has been made, the next step for Bliss is to petition in LA Superior Court to have it converted into a judgment. If Das Films don’t kick up an appeal, it then would be expected to pay up.

When chased by Deadline, lawyers for Das Media did not respond for request for comment on the matter

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Rat in Broth Wipes $190 Million Off Restaurant Chain's Value…

HONG KONG — At hotpot restaurants in China, most of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive. Customers dip pieces of raw meat and vegetables into a big vat of simmering broth until everything cooks and bubbles to the surface.

For one Chinese restaurant chain, however, an item found by a customer at one of its outlets has proved to be particularly costly: a rat.

A video of a small, dead rat — boiled, gelatinous and with its stunned arms outstretched — fished out of a vat of bubbling broth has shocked China, and sent shares of a popular restaurant chain plummeting.

The rat was found last week at a branch of the chain, Xiabu Xiabu, in Weifang, a city in the eastern province of Shandong. A local newspaper reported the incident on Friday and video footage of the customer picking the rat out with chopsticks circulated on Chinese social media all weekend.

A small rat was discovered last week in a hotpot restaurant in eastern China. Images and video were widely shared on Chinese social media.

By the close of trading on Tuesday, shares in the chain’s parent company, Xiabuxiabu Catering Management, had fallen almost 12.5 percent, at one point dropping to their lowest in nearly a year. In all, the discovery of the rat had knocked about $190 million off the market value of the business, which is publicly traded in Hong Kong. The company’s shares recovered somewhat on Wednesday, gaining around 3 percent.

The rat appeared when hotpot has been enjoying something of a moment in China. Traditionally eaten as a family meal in winter, hotpot is a national favorite, and chains selling it are growing in popularity. Xiabu Xiabu and one of its rivals, Haidilao, have reported surging sales and an expanding network of restaurants.

The cuisine’s setup is similar to fondue, with customers sitting round a table centered on a large vat of simmering broth, which adds flavor to the toppings, and can be concentrated to the point of being opaque.

It was under such circumstances that the rat was dredged from swirling, red-hot broth.

Xiabu Xiabu initially released a statement Saturday night saying that it had “ruled out the possibility that an unhygienic environment has caused the rat to appear,” but that statement was later deleted and no new one has been issued. A company representative later said the chain had always taken great care over the quality and safety of its food.

The market supervision bureau, an official watchdog organization, in Weifang has ordered the Xiabu Xiabu branch to suspend its services for “improvement.” In a statement published on Sunday on the Chinese messaging platform WeChat, the bureau said that while it found no traces of rats, the restaurant had committed violations related to stagnant water and buying food from unlicensed suppliers.

Though hotpot has gained in popularity in recent years, customers across China have complained about questionable hygiene standards at hotpot chains, particularly over restaurants reusing hotpot broth with new customers.

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100 Bangladeshi Nationals Apprehended Near Texas…

100 Bangladeshi Nationals Apprehended Near Texas...

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Alabama MCDONALD's shooting leaves 1 dead, 4 wounded…

A man was killed and four others were wounded early Sunday during a shooting at a McDonald’s near Auburn University that doesn’t appear to be random, police said.

Officers responded to the shooting on West Magnolia Ave. just before 2:30 a.m. and found a 20-year-old man dead from gunshot wounds, Auburn Police wrote in a news release.

Four other people, including a 21-year-old Auburn University student, were also injured from the gunfire. A 16-year-old was transported with serious injuries. The student, a 17-and 19-year-old were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. 

Authorities said they believe the incident was not a random shooting.

“Preliminarily, information has been obtained that an altercation occurred just prior to an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the injuries,” police said. 

Just before the shooting, students were celebrating the Auburn Tigers’ football game win over the Alabama State Hornets. 

Auburn University’s emergency notification system wrote on its Twitter page that there’s no indication of an active threat to the campus community. Officials urged to report suspicious activity.

The university initially said the suspect is still at large. Police, in an updated news release, did not provide information about the suspect. 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

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University hosts separate orientation for black freshmen…

Incoming freshmen at George Mason University recently had the opportunity to attend another orientation created specifically for black students.

The event was called the “Black Freshman Orientation.” Hosted by the Black Student Alliance, the additional orientation occurred on August 25 at the university. It has become an annual event there.

Incoming black freshmen at GMU did not have to attend the Black Freshman Orientation, and if they decided to attend, they still were required to go to the university’s regular orientation as well, according to the university.

As for the Black Freshman Orientation, it aimed to help new students feel welcome at the public, Virginia-based university.

“This event is dedicated for the incoming freshman who identify as black or are supporters of black people. The Black Freshman Orientation will offer ways to be involved at Mason not only with the black organizations but also mason as a whole. This event allows incoming students for an outlook on how the Black Community at Mason is like,” a Welcome 2 Mason website about the event states.

On a seperate website, GMU Campus Labs, it described the event as a chance to network.

“The Black Freshman Orientation is a Black Student Alliance event that occurs annually at the beginning of the school year. This year, the Black Student Alliance will be collaborating with other on campus organizations to make the experience even more valuable and enriching for all who attend,” it stated.

“This event is exclusively for the freshman class at George Mason University. At this event, the freshman class will be able to get the ins and outs of GMU, learn how to navigate the campus, as well as learn about the different resources and organizations available to them on campus,” the website states.

Michael Sandler, director of strategic communications at George Mason University, told The College Fix that while the Black Student Alliance did hold this event, it was open for any student to attend.

“The university also has over 300 student organizations that sponsor a variety of events throughout the year. Many student organizations hold welcome back activities as we get close to the beginning of the fall semester. Mason’s Black Student Alliance, one of our student organizations, did sponsor a welcome event during the first week of the fall semester, which was open to all,” Sandler told The Fix.

Black Student Alliance at GMU did not respond to an inquiry from The College Fix for comment.

George Mason University is not the only school to host such an event. Many universities across the nation each year host a variety of welcome back events designed especially for black students.

MORE: Black students demand segregated spaces from white students

IMAGE: Shutterstock

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Bomb, shoot, stab…

A Palestinian protester throws a molotov cocktail /

A Palestinian protester throws a molotov cocktail / Getty Images

BY: Adam Kredo

The Palestinians continue to groom and employ an increasing number of child terrorists to launch strikes on Israel, throwing into further question the ability of the Palestinian government to form a legitimate state, according to a new report on child terrorists and their enablers provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

At least 18 Palestinian child terrorists ranging in ages from 13 to 18 years old have been caught carrying out terrorist attacks in the first eight months of 2018, including stabbing attacks, bombings, and other types of violent terrorism, according to a new report issued by the Human Rights Voices organization, which tracks and analyzes these attacks.

Since 2015, there has been an alarming use of child terrorists by the Palestinians, according to the report, which found “at least 142 separate terrorist attacks by at least 174 Palestinian children” since September of that year. These attacks led to the deaths of seven Israelis and wounding of 58 others, including some who were children themselves.

The support for Palestinian child terrorists is raising new fears and questions about the Palestinian government’s ability to govern its own state amid a parallel and recent rise in riots along the border with Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority claims it is ready and deserving of statehood. But a society that encourages its own children to engage in violence, to become armed combatants, to kill and to maim in pursuit of their parents’ ambitions—contrary to the most elementary norms of human decency—is not ready, willing or able to accept the essentials of peaceful coexistence,” said Anne Bayefsky, a human rights scholar who serves as director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices.

“The fact is that the wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in September 2015—a wave of stabbings and knifings emulated far beyond the Middle East—has a particularly grotesque feature: child terrorists,” Bayefsky said.

The “preferred method of murder” for these Palestinian child terrorists is stabbings and knifings, according to the report, which found this to be “the modus operandi in 105 of the 142 attacks.”

The ages of these attackers ranged from as young as 8 to 17 years of age. The bulk of these attacks—125 in total—were perpetrated by terrorists aged 15 through 17.

“The exact age of the perpetrator under the age of 18 was unspecified in the cases of 20 additional offenders,” according to the report.

The numbers could be even higher.

“These totals do not include incidents where children are known to have been involved in terror but the exact numbers involved are unknown,” the report notes.

In 2018, for instance, “children have been repeatedly involved in violence along the Gaza border, both as perpetrators (April 6, 2018, sent to the front lines; April 20, 2018, engaged in a variety of attacks; June 9, 2018, attack on Israeli military post; June 24, 2018, arson attack; August 3, 2018, infiltration of Israeli territory), and as ‘human shields,'” the report notes.

At least 101 of these child terrorists were male, while 32 were identified as female.

The report criticizes the United Nations for attempting to spin these attacks as the result of Israeli aggression.

“The UN Secretary-General’s most recent annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, released in May 2018, turns Palestinian child terrorists into victims of Israeli defensive reactions,” according to the Human Rights Voices report.

The U.N. report, for example, describes certain attacks as “two girls, three boys aged between 15 and 17 [who] were killed in the context of stabbing or presumed stabbing attacks.” They are not described as terrorists.

The U.N. report “also never mentions ‘Hamas.’ It manages to find ‘worrisome’ not the child stabbers, bombers and shooters, but ‘calls by Palestinian political actors for the participation of youth in stone-throwing against Israelis,'” according to Bayefsky’s report. “At least 32 Palestinian children were involved in carrying out terror attacks during the reporting period of the Secretary General’s report.”

This type of spin by the U.N. has led to accusations it is “an active enabler of the violation of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians: the basic rights to life and security of the person of the Israeli victims of Palestinian children engaged in terrorism, and the rights of Palestinian children not to be recruited or engaged in terrorism in the first place,” according to the report.

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After Johnny Depp's Court Win, Showbiz Lawyers Question 'Handshake' Deals…

Hollywood talent lawyers get 5 percent of their clients’ pay. Everyone knows this, and virtually no one puts it in writing. But decades of gentlemen’s agreements could haunt industry dealmakers after a California judge ruled Aug. 28 that Johnny Depp’s 1999 oral agreement with his former lawyer Jake Bloom is voidable at the actor’s discretion. Now, as Depp seeks a full refund for the estimated $30 million he paid Bloom, more attorneys are weighing whether to seek a retroactive written agreement from clients.

Depp sued Bloom not long after declaring legal war with his ex-business managers, claiming, among other allegations, that he represented him without a proper contract. A provision in the California Business and Professions Code mandates that lawyers get contingency fee agreements in writing. Section 6147 is well known to litigators who take cases with the expectation that they’ll get paid only if they win or settle, but Hollywood talent lawyers have operated for decades under the assumption that the rule doesn’t apply to them. “There is a culture of informality in this world,” says top talent lawyer Rick Genow, who reps Debra Messing and Henry Golding. “Do people use engagement letters? Most do not. Having fee disputes with clients is extremely rare.”

Lawyers aren’t allowed to have fixed-term contracts with clients, he says, so they’re forced to continually prove their value and foster relationships. Since talent can walk away at any point, many lawyers view a written contract as unnecessary.

“You sign the client and it’s an uncomfortable moment to thrust a legal agreement in front of them when you’re the person who’s supposed to be advising them on whether it’s appropriate to sign legal agreements,” says Genow. “A lot of people make the decision it’s not worth the effort.”

Given the proclivity for verbal agreements, Judge Terry Green’s ruling that Depp can void his deal with Bloom is raising eyebrows across the industry. “Everybody’s concerned because most people have handshake deals,” says an entertainment litigator at a major firm. He, like many attorneys consulted by THR, doesn’t think talent deals are contingency-based. “Usually by the time a transactional lawyer gets called a deal has been made, or is pretty close, and it’s a question of cranking out the paperwork,” he says. “It’s not a question of if they’re going to get paid, it’s when they’re going to get paid.”

But Judge Green found Depp’s deal is a contingency fee agreement because Bloom’s fees were “directly linked” to the actor’s success, which isn’t guaranteed. “That is the very definition of a performance-based incentive,” he wrote in his opinion, which is posted below. “This is a contingency fee agreement. There is nothing else it can be.”

Bloom, one of Hollywood’s top dealmakers, had argued he provided “thousands of hours” of legal services for a variety of matters, not all of which resulted in income. “Some jobs are taken by a client to advance his or her artistic goals, and some jobs are taken to advance commercial goals,” states an Aug. 2 filing. “The amount of an actor’s revenue, viewed with no context, could not, should not, and is not used as the sole determinant of a client’s ‘success’ or ‘failure,’ nor, for that matter, the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of the attorney who negotiated the deal.”

Matt Galsor, who reps A-list talent including Tom Cruise and James Cameron, agrees with Green’s assessment. “We don’t do a contingent deal ever without an engagement letter,” he says. “It’s just not enforceable.”

Contingency debate aside, Depp’s lawyers also point to Section 6148 of the statute, which mandates that any time an individual client’s legal expenses are expected to exceed $1,000 the contract must be in writing. The section doesn’t apply to corporations, so may be moot if an actor operates through a loan-out corporation, which is common in Hollywood. It also includes a carve out for when “the attorney’s services are of the same general kind as previously rendered to and paid for by the client” and, therefore, may not apply to longstanding relationships. Green didn’t reach this argument.

Although Depp estimates he paid Bloom about $30 million during the course of an 18-year relationship that included mega deals for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and several Tim Burton films, that doesn’t mean Bloom comes out empty-handed. Under the legal concept of quantum meruit, he’ll still likely be able to collect a “reasonable fee” for the services he provided. The big question is whether courts will consider the industry standard 5 percent to be “reasonable.” A trial to determine the remaining issues in the suit, including the quantum meruit claim, is set to begin May 6.

“Lawyers’ hourly fees are extraordinarily high these days,” argues Genow. “In most situations, quantum meruit might actually be worth as much or more than the 5 percent fee arrangement.”

Depp presents a rare case in which someone who has been extremely successful for many years has an ugly falling-out with his longtime lawyer. Few people make Depp money, and few see a business relationship end with such fireworks. For much of Depp’s tenure with Bloom, he routinely earned $20 million up front plus a big share of backend profits — he got $55 million from his profit participation on Alice in Wonderland alone. If a star suspects he or she is paying more than a “reasonable” fee, it’s not cheap to get confirmation from the court. “Even if the client prevails, it’s really the outside litigators who are getting enriched,” says Genow. “You might spend millions trying to prove that you should get an extra couple hundred thousand.”

Lawyers at several top firms say they are debating whether to ask clients to sign a written fee deal under the guidance of an independent attorney. Clients choosing to challenge an oral agreement under Section 6147 could spark litigation, create tax disasters for lawyers and possibly even bankrupt smaller law firms, Galsor says. “Of all of the people who have a percentage arrangement, I would say the absolute majority don’t have anything in writing,” he says. “This puts a spotlight on it. Is it going to explode? I think it might.”

A version of this story also appears in the Sept. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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BOOM: 45 Americans Under Age 26 Earned $10 Million or More…

BOOM: 45 Americans Under Age 26 Earned $10 Million or More...

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